Sermon Illustrations

Symbols evoke feelings of adoration or hatred. In this election year, the elephant and donkey mean different things to different people. Let's talk about a symbol that all Americans should be able to adore. In 1813 General Armistead commissioned Mary Pickersgill to make a huge flag that would wave over Fort McHenry near Baltimore to be seen be any enemy from miles away. Pickersgill and her 13 year old daughter Caroline labored long hours that summer until the flag was completed. That flag was 42 feet by 30 feet. It was made from a combination of cotton and dyed wool bunting. It cost about $5,377 in todays money. When the British attacked by land and by sea, they could see that flag in the distance. The defenders of Baltimore faced a bombardment by the guns, rockets and bombs of the most powerful navy in the world on the days and nights of September 12 through September 14. For 25 hours the British navy fired every gun they had on the fortifications of Baltimore. In the dawn's early light of September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key saw not the Union Jack but the stars and stripes of our country's flag. On that occasion, Mr. Key wrote the words to our national anthem. At the end of the battle our flag was still there and it is a great symbol of patriotism to Americans. It is now displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. However, on the other side it is a symbol of failure and defeat to the British. The issue is not the contents, the cost, or the beauty of that flag. The issue is what that flag represents. Symbols are powerful things. The cross of Calvary is a symbol as well. For those who lived before the death of Christ, the cross represented the horrible death of the most heinous of criminals. It was not something anyone looked to with awe or reverence, but rather with angst and disgust. For those who lived in the decades after the cross of Christ, there was a division of thought about this symbol. For the Jews it was a sign of weakness as they could not think of their Messiah dying. For Greeks the cross was a sign of foolishness as they could not think of a God who would die for everyone. But, as Paul says in this verse, for those of us being saved it is a sign of power. Besides power, the cross is also a symbol of love, forgiveness, victory over death.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Related Sermons